Canned Beets

By Sarah Mukula

We rushed to your side and consoled you the first few times. We wiped your tears away and told you everything was going to be O.K. But then we realized that this was your new habit. Whether we consoled you or not, you continued to weep in the grass, covering your whole body with your bathing towel. Each of the fictional characters you’ve read about had something about them and “There is nothing interesting about me that would ever let me be a character in a book!” you shouted the last time we tried to help you. Surely, we already thought you were more interesting than the rest of us because you desired no attention upon walking into a room. 
You weren’t ever shy with your eyes, but rather with your mouth. It always seemed to be flinching like you had a constant distaste for your words and had to stop yourself from letting us hear them. 
You never talked about the books, and no one ever read the books you read, so we never really found out what made you cry so much every time you read them. We would see you march down the hill and lay your towel down in the grass and we would think oh, she’s at it again- that girl has her tears for only made up ideas. And sure enough, you would read, then roll over and cry and cry and cry, then you would turn back to the book and read until you cried again. The librarians turned beet red when you walked in the door and handed soggy books back to them. Eventually, you were banned from the public library, and for the following week you were not the same and you constantly looked like you were in a hurry. So you found a window in the back of the library on the right side of a desk and you asked whoever sat there to retrieve the book you needed. And they would. You would steal it for a little while, but you always brought it back. You were such a fast reader (and runner) that the librarians never caught on. 
You asked us politely to buy you cans of beets at the grocery store, and we did, but we never saw you eat them. We started to notice that a single can would disappear for every book you returned to the library. Then after a rare day of drinking, you confessed your crimes to us in between hiccups. You asked the innocent person sitting by your window to place a can next to your soggy book on the shelf. You told them it was for the librarians. We stopped wondering about you and started wondering about what the hell those librarians did with all those cans of beets.


Sara Mikula is an artist and writer currently based in Massachusetts. @sara_mikula